In his recent speech, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, during his visit to the USA, mentioned that India has the oldest civilization. This is true!
Not only is India home to the world’s oldest civilization, it has the greatest cultural continuity as many ancient traditions and knowledge systems have passed to the present day.
The Harappan Civilization is India’s oldest, peaking between 2700 and 1900 BCE, though its culture can be traced back at least another 3,00 years. We have discovered over 2000 sites mostly in northwest India, including Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi, Farmana, Bhirana in Haryana and Lothal, Surkotda, Dholavira in Gujarat, all of which have been exhaustively studied.
Not many people visit of these sites, because unlike Egypt and its pyramids, there is little monumental architecture to attract tourists. While the Harappans were technically capable, they chose to invest their wealth, mostly generated through inland and international trade, to promote the welfare of the common man. Instead of pyramids, they built the world’s first public sanitation system – every house had working toilets — and public parks.
The Harappans contributions to global heritage cannot be overestimated:
- They built the world’s first modern and hygienic cities.
- Embracing the Panchayat system, they were the first in the world to practice an incipient form of democracy over 6,000 years ago.
- They constructed their homes of dried mud bricks and invented the so-called English-bond method for laying bricks, which we refer to as the Harappan Bond.
- They developed sophisticated water harvesting and management practices as evidenced by the site of Dholavira in Gujarat.
- They built the world’s first dry dock and ship building yard at Lothal.
- They manufactured specialized crafts on a large scale as evidenced by the sites of Kalibangan, Farmana and Rakhigarhi.
In 2012, the archeological team from Deccan College initiated an excavation and site management plan for the site of Rakhigarhi, with an eye toward attracting researchers and tourists. The team is developing a strong outreach program, which will feature a field-training camp for both professionals and laymen who’d like to participate in excavation. (The excavation season is generally from December to March.)
Our long-term goal is to build an onsite museum to showcase the history and achievements of the ancient Harappans, particularly in the areas of science and technology.
We welcome local, national and international visitors to this extraordinary site, where they can witness firsthand the extraordinary contributions of one of the world’s oldest civilizations to our common global heritage.
Date: 8th October, 2014
Prof. V.S. Shinde